MEN'S SOCCER: Team looks ahead to postseason play
The men’s soccer team finished its regular season on a high note this past Saturday, vanquishing their University Athletic Association foe, New York University, 1-0 at home.
Judges 1, NYU 0
The victory brought the Judges’ record to an impressive 13-4 on the season. Many of those wins came off dominant offensive performances, but Saturday’s matchup was anything but that. The squad used its stifling defense to pull off the victory in a close match.
For the game, the Judges held the NYU Violets to only two shots on goal. One of those attempts, however, was nearly punched in. NYU senior forward Nic Notaro had the ball in the 25th minute and attempted to push it past Judges goalkeeper Greg Irwin ’20. Irwin was able to dive to his left and make a spectacular save that kept the game tied up at zero.
Brandeis would have its own solid opportunity in the first half when forward Andrew Allen ’19 had a one-on-one chance with the NYU goalkeeper. The goalie, NYU junior Grant Engel, was able to stop the straightaway attempt and preserve the shutout in the 42nd minute. A few minutes later, as the first half dwindled down, the team had another good look at goal but midfielder Max Breiter’s ’20 header just missed the net.
The second half would be where the club finally put a point up on the board. Allen would once again have a golden opportunity against Engel, but this time he would take full advantage. Defender Alex Walter ’20 lifted a through ball over the NYU defense that left Allen all alone with Engel. Allen beat the keeper and converted his fourth goal of the season. The Judges were up 1-0 early in the second half, as the goal was recorded in the 47th minute.
The team was able to hold onto that lead for the remainder of the contest. Its defense tightened significantly, not allowing another shot in the goal in the entire second half. Overall, the Judges outshot the Violets 16-8, including the team’s six shots on goal. On other aspects of the game, the team also outplayed the visitors from New York. The squad attempted six corner kicks to NYU’s one and only committed 11 fouls while NYU had 14.
With captain goalkeeper Ben Woodhouse ’18 sidelined with an injury, Irwin was forced to start the game, as he has done for the last three contests. This time he was able to record his first career shutout in only his fourth career start. The club will need Irwin to continue to step up if Woodhouse is not able to return to action in the postseason.
Going forward, the team will play highly intense matchups in the National Collegiate Athletic Association matches. Yesterday the NCAA Division III Soccer tournament was announced, and the Judges will host the first two rounds. The team's opening match will be against Western Connecticut State University. The other matchup taking place at Gordon Field will be the University of Rutgers-Newark Scarlet Raiders facing off with the Bowdoin College Polar Bears.
The team will look to match and possibly exceed the high expectations it set for itself last year. In the 2016 campaign, the squad made it all the way to the Final Four for only the second time in the program's history. This tournament appearance represents the team's fifth in the last six years.
The 2016 season was an improvement upon a 2015 one that saw the Judges falling in the Sweet 16. Another improved performance would land the club in the championship game, a feat the school has not witnessed in over 40 years.
It should be an exhilarating playoff run for fans to watch as the Judges look to prove their dominance over Western Connecticut State.